Entometa fervens (Walker, 1855)
Common Gum Snout Moth
(formerly known as Opsirhina fervens)
LASIOCAMPINAE ,   LASIOCAMPIDAE ,   BOMBYCOIDEA
  
Don Herbison-Evans
(donherbisonevans@outlook.com)
and
Stella Crossley & John Stumm

Entometa fervens
rough form
(Photo: courtesy of Trevor Jinks, North Burnett, Queensland)

This is a large fleshy Caterpillar with soft downy hairs. It is sometimes smooth, sometimes rough, sometimes brown, and sometimes grey. The variable nature of the caterpillars suggests that the name Entometa fervens is being applied to a complex of several species. More investigation is needed to clarify this.

The caterpillar has a prominent projection on the back near the posterior end, and a pair of fleshy filaments behind the head. It is solitary, and feeds at night on a variety of:

  • Gum Trees ( Eucalyptus, MYRTACEAE ).

    Entometa fervens
    smooth form
    (Photo: courtesy of Edward Tsyrlin, Melbourne, Victoria)

    By day, it rests well camouflaged, flattened against the stem of its foodplant, with the hairs along the sides disguising its legs. Also: the rounded knob on the tail mimics a broken-off gum tree twig.

    If disturbed, the caterpillar rears up the thorax, tucks its head under the body, displays two black and white bands, and stiffens the two horns behind the head.

    Entometa fervens
    (Photo: courtesy of Martin Purvis)

    The caterpillar grows to a length of about 7 cms.

    Entometa fervens
    cocoon
    (Photo: courtesy of Craig Nieminski, Darwin, Northern Territory)

    It pupates in a white papery cocoon between two leaves on the foodplant.

    Entometa fervens
    Male
    (Specimen: courtesy of the The Australian Museum)

    The moths are rusty coloured with stout hairy bodies. with wings varying in colour from orange through brown to cream. The moths have a dark patch under the hindwing, which can be used to distinguish them from Entometa guttularis. The adult males have a wingspan up to 5 cms.

    Entometa fervens
    Male
    (Photo: courtesy of Craig Neminski, Darwin, Northern Territory)

    The females have a wingspan up to 8 cms.

    Entometa fervens
    Female
    (Specimen: courtesy of the The Australian Museum)

    The species is found in the southern half of Australia, including:

  • Queensland,
  • New South Wales,
  • Victoria,
  • Tasmania,
  • South Australia, and
  • Western Australia.

    Entometa fervens
    Female with eggs

    The female lays her eggs in untidy clusters on leaves of a food plant. The eggs are mottled brown and ovoid, with a length of about 2 mm. Many are laid lying on their sides. An adult female captured in Brisbane at night in May 2003 had laid 20 -25 eggs by morning. The eggs hatched 11 days later and the Caterpillars were reared on the young shoots of a Red River gum.

    Entometa fervens
    eggs magnified

    Most pupated between after 7 to 8 weeks. The last larva delayed pupation until 11 weeks after hatching. After a pupal stage of 6 - 7 weeks, one female and two male adults emerged. The specimen that delayed its pupation by an extra 3 weeks actually emerged as a female adult moth 3 weeks later, so emerging at nearly the same time as those that had pupated early.

    We have observed that females bred in captivity lay eggs the next day after they emerge from the pupa, and that these eggs are usually unfertilised. These moths are similar to domestic poultry in this regard.


    Further reading :

    David Carter,
    Butterflies and Moths,
    Collins Eyewitness Handbooks, Sydney 1992, p. 208.

    Ian F.B. Common,
    Moths of Australia,
    Melbourne University Press, 1990, pls. 12.21, 12.22, p. 390.

    Pat and Mike Coupar,
    Flying Colours,
    New South Wales University Press, Sydney 1992.

    Peter Marriott,
    Moths of Victoria - Part 1,
    Silk Moths and Allies - BOMBYCOIDEA
    ,
    Entomological Society of Victoria, 2008, pp. 10-11.

    Francis Walker,
    Catalogue of Lepidoptera Heterocera,
    List of the Specimens of Lepidopterous Insects in the Collection of the British Museum,
    Part 6 (1855), p. 1419.

    Paul Zborowski and Ted Edwards,
    A Guide to Australian Moths,
    CSIRO Publishing, 2007, p. 153.


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    (updated 27 September 2012, 13 January 2014, 11 April 2015)